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Extinctions & Climate Change

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Extinctions & Climate Change

Show Archive
Date: Sunday - March 20, 2005
Host: Art Bell
Guests: Peter Ward

Prof. Peter Ward, the author of Gorgon, shared his research into mass extinctions and climate change. A "Great Dying" took place 250 million years ago, he said, that was brought about by global warming. Volcanic events in Siberia added more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, making the temperature hotter but reducing the oxygen. The air became so thin during this time, that it would be like trying to breathe at a height of 17,000 ft., and he estimated that 90% of species died out.

Computer modeling suggests that 100 years from now, an area such as Washington state will become warm enough for palm trees and crocodiles, said Ward. But beyond the discomfort of tropical weather in places not used to it, he warned that the greatest danger of global warming is that it could kick us into a reverse trend of glaciation (as written about in The Coming Global Superstorm.

With the warming, fresh water will be threatened by the rise in sea level, leading to increased salinization and lowered agricultural productivity, he forecasted. Ward also cautioned that an asteroid, like the one that caused an airburst over Tunguska in 1908, is due to hit Earth again. Such events, he detailed, are predicted to strike every hundred years and can leave damage equivalent to a nuclear attack.